Japan defeats Cuba in a thriller in Tokyo.
The game was tied at 5 in the bottom of the 8th inning when a simple play turned more difficult than expected resulting in an error by first baseman Willian Saavedra as he could not come up with a throw from shortstop Alexander Ayala.
The error allowed Nobuhiro Matsuda to reach with 1 out. The next batter, Shogo Akiyama, wasted no time in singling to left putting runners at the corners with 1 out. After a sacrifice fly to right by Seiichi Uchikawa put Japan up 6-5, Tetsuto Yamada hit the first pitch he saw into the left field stands for his second home run of the game and an 8-5 Japan lead.
Yamada had a huge game for Japan. He drove in 3 runs, scored 4 more, and finished the game 3-for-4 with a double and 2 homers.
It was a back and forth game all night long. Cuba took an early 2-1 lead in the 2nd inning on a Yurisbel Gracial home run. However, the top of the Cuba lineup went a combined 0-for-12. It wasn’t until the lineup got to the cleanup hitter Alfredo Despaigne that they started to see production. Despaigne went 3-for-4 scoring twice. But 8 of the 10 total hits from Cuba came from just 3 hitters, Despaigne(3), Gracial (2), and Yosvani Alarcon (3-for-4)
Neither started pitched well. Both gave up 4 runs in 4 innings of work. The difference was the error made by Cuba that opened the door for Japan.
The loss does not eliminate Cuba from a possible semifinal birth, but they do remain the only team in Pool E without a win. Cuba will need a win against the Netherlands in a rather quick turnaround in order to hope for a Japan win over Israel and a 3-way tie at 1-2. Then they just have to hope to win the run differential and make it into the tiebreaker game.
Round 2 Pool E Standings:
- Japan 2-0
- Netherlands 1-1
- Israel 1-1
- Cuba 0-2
Eric Bynum is Managing Editor here at BaseballdeWorld. He spent three years as an ESL teacher in South Korea, and is now working on his master's degree in history with a focus on baseball and WWII. He has played and/or written about baseball for the past 30 years and is an avid Atlanta Braves fan.